On September 5 was the 35th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 1, which lifted off in 1977 on a Titan III–Centaur launch system just 16 days after its twin, Voyager 2. The spacecraft explored the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn before being tossed out toward deep space by Saturn's gravity. It now approaches, and may have temporarily entered, the region beyond termination shock. It is presently the most distant object built by humanity.
"These are things we hadn't really thought about or imagined," Stone says (Ed Stone, the mission's project scientist and the David Morrisroe Professor of Physics at Caltech). "With what I call our limited terracentric view, it was hard to realize how diverse nature really is. That's what Voyager revealed."
Today, the mission is officially known as the Voyager Interstellar Mission, acknowledging the fact that the robotic explorers are on a journey that is expected to take them into interstellar space. When they will actually leave the Sun's sphere of influence—an area called the heliosphere—no one can say, but mission scientists now say it appears to be only a matter of time before they do so. "But it could be several days, several weeks, or several years," Stone says.
However, Voyager 1 is probably not so far from the Sun as the Mission team supposes.
The official data of the Voyager instruments suggests the following status of the both spacecraft:
As of March 2012, Voyager 1 was at a distance of 17.9 billion kilometers (119.9 AU) from the Sun. Voyager 2 was at a distance of 14.7 billion kilometers (98.3 AU). Voyager 1 is escaping the solar system at a speed of about 3.6 AU per year. Voyager 2 is escaping the solar system at a speed of about 3.3 AU per year.
However, these supposed speeds cannot be true, because the space outside the Solar System is much more dense than inside of it.
The main problem with the common interpretation of the Voyager data is caused by a simple neglect of the stellar hierarchy of the Sun. If a single star, the Sun, should send into its cosmic environment such a mighty solar wind reaching about 100 AU away from the star, how mighty must be a comparative stellar wind from the hundreds nearest stars? And a corresponding wind from the thousands of thousands stars from the further levels of the Cosmic Hierarchy? The space outside the heliosphere is dense of the interstellar wind. The speed of light is much slower there than in „our“ local „vacuum“ of the Solar System.
Therefore it is a fantastic observation for myself, that the interstellar wind has been found to vanish since 2004 in relation to the spacecraft already floating through the interstellar space, together with the whole Solar System and together with the interstellar wind (with a velocity of about 300 km/s towards the Andromeda super-galaxy, and still much quicker towards the Virgo cluster of galaxies).